Corporate vs. Franchisees: Most Common Marketing Issues
For many franchise companies, the traditional advertising channels they were able to control in-house that drive leads and brand visibility (such as portals, print advertising, PR) are not working as effectively as they were 2-3 years ago now that mobile and digital have totally taken over advertising.
Customers are expected more tailored user funnels and content and unorganized marketing can leave competitive businesses behind -- which is extra difficult for franchises to manage when they encounter limitations with their corporate brands, or even with corporate brands that deal with a wide range of unconnected franchisees.
A fragmented strategy at the corporate headquarters and local franchises levels will doom any business, especially online. Poor lead generation, limited brand visibility, insufficient data gathering and sharing, and the lack of digital tools are the 4 problems that franchisees report as most negatively affecting their business.
1) Unfocused Lead Generation
Too often, franchises simply aren't supported in web marketing efforts from top to bottom from their corporate partners. The lack of help could be in the form of advertising spend dollars, creative content, or even web tools and SEO functions.
The first place to start in managing franchise and corporate relationships at the digital level is to make sure there is a level of support necessary for franchisees to compete: website development, employee management and advertising online is a great place to start.
2) Untargeted Lead Generation
It's not surprising to see a corporate national marketing plan include marketing around the central brand, but nothing that connects the brand to local communities or supports the local franchise's efforts already in place. This can make or break a business both in large urban areas with strong media presences and smaller rural towns with more decentralized advertising.
3) Basic Communication & KPI Management
Lack of coordination in important areas like traffic and conversion analytics puts franchisees at a serious competitive disadvantage.
This can mean losing simple insights because data is never aggregated (causing small sample sizes between limited regions and franchises), or simply the lack of coordinated ad campaigns where integration would be beneficial to all franchises or corporate partners.
4) Lack of Digital Tools
Unfortunately, even when corporate relationships provide for websites or website templates, they can often be extremely limiting. Some franchises may or may not have a choice of opting into the corporate website, or perhaps are only given a page on a large domain for which they don't have access. This can cause major problems when websites cannot be fine-tuned to work with marketing channels on a basic or even advanced level. Technical cohesion and SEO/SEM/PPC tools are vital to the success of any digital campaign, and a strategy is needed that will keep user funnels and measurement integrated.
Answers & Solutions
There is, of course, no one-size-fits-all solution for franchisees and franchisors. There are national brands, regional brands, independent and otherwise franchise relationships all with different types of challenges, considerations and obstacles.
The key for any business working within a franchise relationship is to have a digital marketing partner flexible enough to work with these often changing landscapes between competing interests and interoffice issues. Experience is everything, and having the necessary tools and communication to create a coherent strategy is the make-or-break moment for any franchise in a competitive space looking to create more leads hand-in-hand with their corporate partner.